RAMALLAH, August 18 (JMCC) - Hamas
leaders in Gaza
are calling the Palestinian Authority
to account for ordering several changes in the operations of mosques and cracking down on Hamas-affiliated preachers.
Hamas sources said the PA’s Ministry for Wakf (Islamic trust) Affairs had shut down hundreds of centers for teaching the Koran in the West Bank over the past few months. The centers used to operate inside mosques, which are directly controlled by the ministry.
PA security officials said the centers were being used as bases and meeting places for Hamas supporters.
Hamas, on the other hand, said the centers had functioned as schools for teaching young men and women to recite the Koran by heart.
Hamas also accused the PA of firing hundreds of mosque imams under the pretext that they were affiliated with the Islamist movement.
Earlier this week, the PA government issued an order banning Sheikh Hamed Bittawi, a senior representative of Hamas in the West Bank and a leading Islamic scholar, from delivering sermons during Friday prayers.
Bittawi, who has frequently criticized the PA government’s policies in his sermons, said the decision to ban him from delivering sermons was tantamount to a “declaration of war on Allah.”
The PA security forces recently arrested two of his sons on suspicion of supporting Hamas.
The sheikh, meanwhile, said he was not the only preacher who had been affected by the ban.
“Hundreds of preachers in the West Bank have also been prohibited from addressing the believers during Friday prayers in the mosques,” Bittawi said. “The government in Ramallah wants only yes-men as preachers.”
The PA has also banned Sheikh Nayef Rajoub, the former PA minister for Wakf affairs from Hamas, from addressing worshipers at mosques. He is the brother of former Fatah security commander Jibril Rajoub.
Read the story at the Jerusalem Post